Travel retailers will have their work cut out to ensure compliance with new Atol regulations poised to extend the consumer financial protection scheme to agents putting together their own packages for the first time next year.
Companies will need to review every aspect of their agency business, according to ASB Law associate Debbie Venn, who warned yesterday at a seminar on the proposed new flight-plus scheme: “Agents will have to take care how they sell. Business models may need to change.”
Venn said: “Agents will need to review their policies, their websites and advertising literature, their company documentation. They will need to make clear [throughout] that they are an agent with agency status.
“If staff sell Atol-protected holidays, they will need to be trained. Staff need to be able to explain accurately to customers what is protected.” Venn said: “We don’t know the nuts and bolts of the regulations, [but] agents may need to change their background financial arrangements and make a full review of supplier arrangements.”
She said agents acquiring an Atol would also be responsible for customers’ personal data and need to register with the Data Protection Agency. The cost of adapting to the changes would depend on how companies operate at the moment, she said.
Venn added: “Trade associations will also need to change their guidance notes and model documents.” She told the seminar, hosted by tax specialists Grant Thornton, ASB Law and accountancy firm White Hart Associates: “Be careful with dynamic packaging [because] the documentation has caused a lot of confusion – not just the terms and conditions, but the documentation given to the customer.”
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